Digging for gardening buyers

Feb 01, 2007 10:30 PM  By

With the names of 6.8 million 12-month buyers available for rental or exchange during the third quarter of 2006, the consumer gardening category suffered a bit of erosion. According to New York-based list brokerage services firm ParadyszMatera, for the third quarter of the previous year, 6.9 million active buyers of gardening catalogers had been available. Since then, Nor East, a mailer of miniature roses, had removed its 103,000-name list from the market. Among the new-to-market files that tried to make up the shortfall were Grower’s Supply (with 24,000 12-month buyers), A.M. Leonard’s Gardener’s Edge (20,000 active buyers), and Spray-N-Grow (19,000 active buyers).

The largest file in the category belongs to Plow & Hearth, owned by multititle mailer 1-800-Flowers.com. With the tagline “Products for Country Living,” Plow & Hearth has expanded its product line in recent years to focus more on home furnishings and less on gardening products — which is no doubt why its nearly 804,000-name active-buyer file is 44% larger than that of the number-two title in the sector, Breck’s Dutch Bulbs.

Breck’s is owned by another multititle mailer, MySeasons, as are the fourth and fifth largest files in the sector: Michigan Bulb Co. and Spring Hill Nurseries. Michigan Bulb grew its active buyer file 18%, to more than 415,000 names, between the third quarter of 2005 and that of 2006, primarily by adding its Web-generated buyers to the list. Several appreciably smaller catalogers also enjoyed double-digit house file growth, among them organic-seed merchant Seeds of Change (63% growth, to 66,000 names) and bulb cataloger McClure & Zimmerman (34% growth, to 14,000 names).

During the first three quarters of 2006, 24% of the gardening catalogs received offered some sort of purchase incentive, up from 19% for all of 2005. Discounts were by far the most popular incentive: 22% of the catalogs touted them, including Breck’s, Gardens Alive, Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Co., and Spring Hill Nurseries.

In contrast only 2% of the catalogs, among them Gardener’s Edge and Johnny’s Selected Seeds, promoted free shipping. And not one cataloger offered deferred payment.

House file universe: gardening catalogs

3Q
2004
4Q
2004
1Q
2005
2Q
2005
3Q
2005
4Q
2005
1Q
2006
2Q
2006
3Q
2006
Total universe 6.3 6.3 6.2 6.6 6.9 6.8 7.1 6.6 6.8

Gardening catalogs with the largest active buyer files

Rank List name 3Q 2006
house file universe
Average order
1 Plow & Hearth 803,903 $90
2 Breck’s Dutch Bulbs 559,992 $55
3 Gardener’s Supply Co. 454,300 $83
4 Michigan Bulb Co. 415,131 $20
5 Spring Hill Nurseries 411,607 $60
Source: ParadyszMatera